Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything has a premise that’s just too innately appealing to ignore. There’s something elemental about this pair of boneheads wrecking up the universe, and the pedigree of comics from IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle team suggests that this is going to be some marvelous wreckage indeed. We’re sitting down with five artists that helped contribute to the mayhem to discuss their approach to action.
This week, Spencer is talking to artist Damian Couceiro about low angles, keeping his characters straight in a chaotic issue, and designing mutants.
Retcon Punch: Damian, what’s your background with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
Damian Couceiro: My only background with the TMNT before working on this series was being a huge fan as a kid. I loved the films in the 90s and then the animated series, so I was very thrilled with getting back to these characters from my childhood.
RP: What was your approach to drawing the cast? Was there anything you wanted to emphasize about these characters that maybe you haven’t seen other artists try before?
DC: There have been such good artists working on TMNT series that I didn’t think I could bring anything new. However, I did try to put my personal style, giving them a realistic touch and a kind of dark look.
RP: Was there anything that appealed to you about returning to 2012 and drawing these scenes that take place way back at the beginning of the series?
DC: Well of course, it’s the origin of our heroes! I was messing with their history, and that was a lot of fun. I loved doing the turtles before they mutated. Also, I have a predilection for time travel stories. There is something very appealing about going to the characters’ past and changing it.
RP: This is a very chaotic issue, especially the further you get into it. How did you keep track of all the different characters? What was your strategy when it came to introducing more and more characters while still keeping the action easy to follow?
DC: It was quite a challenge fitting in all the different characters and making it clear for the readers. I tried to use the background to give some reference to where each character was. Even the writers helped me out with a diagram of the setting with colour lines to show how the characters moved throughout the issue. So you can imagine how crazy the action is.
RP: On a similar vein, I really like your layouts and the way you block your characters. I’d love to talk about this page:
I love the way Bebop and Rocksteady’s positions seem to mirror the positions of their past selves. What were your thoughts when putting this page together? Did the techniques you used here extend to the rest of the issue as well?
DC: I’m glad you like it.
Yes, that’s exactly what I tried to show. Throughout this issue, and especially on this page, there is a growing conflict between Mutant Bebop and Rocksteady that impacts to their past selves, so that’s what I tried to reflect. I’m not sure if I repeated this technique much more on the rest of the issue. I was more worried about showing all the mayhem that unleashes later on in the story.
RP: I noticed that you use a lot of low angles throughout the issue, even framing one panel through Bebop and Rocksteady’s legs. What attracts you to this particular technique? What effect do you think it has on the story?
DC: Yes, I have a preference for low angles composition. I think it’s a strong way of showing the characters and it gives a nice sense of depth. But also it allows me to make some characters look more important or more powerful than others. For example, in that panel you mentioned, Bebop and Rocksteady look huge while April looks small and in danger,almost like she can be stomped on by Bebop and Rocksteady. I like to think of how we read images on an unconscious level.
RP: There’s a ton of new character designs late in this issue when the mutants break free (and when April and the SWAT teams starts to mutate). How involved were you in those designs? Did Dustin Weaver and Ben Bates ask for any mutants in particular, or did they leave the specifics up to you? What was your favorite design to play around with here?
DC: Dustin and Ben asked for those new mutants in particular. They designed a couple of them and the rest are actually classic TMNT characters that I was asked to redesign. They are Scumbug, Wingnut and Screwloose. I enjoyed designing them a lot, but I think Scumbug was the one I enjoyed the most.
And I also had free rein on the SWAT mutations. This chance of designing mutants was one of the highlights of working on this issue. I hope readers enjoy it as well.
Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything 3 is on sale now. Check back next week for Taylor’s interview with artist Nick Pitarra about issue 4!